The Northern Ireland Forest School Association was set up as an independent charity in 2008. Since that time NIFSA has worked with over 7,500 children and trained over 20 Forest School Leaders to a Level 3 standard.
NIFSA has developed its own suite of Forest School qualifications for Northern Ireland. They are all accredited by the Open College Network and recognised nationally.
The key points about NIFSA training are:
a) Developed by a panel of local experts from both the environmental and educational sectors.
b) The training is usually on a one-to-one or one-to-two tutor to participant ratio. This ensures a high level of involvement and allows the participant(s) to get a lot more from the smaller class size.
c) The dates for the training are based on your needs and when you are available to undertake it.
d) Funding – for the Level 3 12 week programme and the After-Schools Club NIFSA can help you source and apply for funding. To date no school has had to pay for any of the training they have received. It has all been sourced by NIFSA through grant-aid.
e) Independent evaluations from schools and groups that have undertaken NIFSA training has shown a very high degree of satisfaction (over 90% thought the training and resources were excellent) but more importantly nearly 75% of schools/groups are continuing with their forest school programme after their training.
Funding for capital environmental projects
NIFSA is a recognised Environmental Body registered with ENTRUST. This simply means NIFSA can apply for capital funding to develop environmental projects, providing they are within close proximity to a landfill site.
Examples of projects that NIFSA have funded are:
Sixmilewater, Newtownabbey – Conservation Area and boardwalk – grant secured £33,000